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Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Boucher Hits 40, Rafferty Hits 30, and the Utica Comets Take Down Rochester 3-2 in Big Divisional Game

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #34

Rochester Americans at Utica Comets

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

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5:00 pm Eastern/2:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

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Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

Post-Game

Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Francis Perron: W/C – Upper-body injury (eye), week-to-week. NHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  3. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  4. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. Stefan LeBlanc: LD – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  6. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. Carter Camper: C – Veteran scratch. AHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

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(First forward line/defence pair listed started the game. The remainder are in no particular order)

47 Sven Baertschi – 36 Wacey Hamilton – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

95 Justin Bailey – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 74 Tanner Sorenson

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 9 Lukas Jasek – 13 Kole Lind

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 17 Seamus Malone – 18 Vincent Arseneau

8 Dylan Blujus – 5 Jalen Chatfield

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48 Olli Juolevi – 6 Ashton Sautner (A)

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 25 Brogan Rafferty

31 Zane McIntyre

64 Mikey DiPietro (backing up)

First Period

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The opening frame saw some pretty solid action at a decent pace as the teams played a back and forth brand of hockey.

Kole Lind has been having a nice season and it isn’t all on the offensive side of the puck. We saw him get blown up by Andrew MacWilliam just inside the Comets blue line but Kole quickly returned the favour on the 6’2″, 223lbs veteran defender at the other end in the same shift.

Olli Juolevi followed suit and used a stiff hit to separate his man from the puck in the Comets zone.

The Comets were running with a fourth line of Seamus Malone between Jonah Gadjovich and Vinny Arseneau and that trio went to work with an active shift in the offensive zone. The Comets tend to get good shifts out of their fourth line, no matter who seems to be on it at any given time.

Guillaume Brisebois has had more zip on his outlet passes this season and he used a nice one to stretch the ice for Boucher, who worked a give and go with Baertschi for a shot that went high and off the target.

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At the other end, Remi Elie had a long shot kicked out by Zane McIntyre. Tanner Sorenson had a chance of his own at the other end but put his offering off the side of the net. His line with Carter Bancks and Justin Bailey followed up with a busy shift.

The Amerks started to press a little as McIntyre had to steer aside an Eric Comrie offering and the Comets went the other way. Rafferty and Boucher were looking like they might hook up on a nice scoring play but Boucher wasn’t able to take the pass.

Back in the Comets end, Arseneau had a cross-ice pass attempt picked off and McIntyre had to stop a Casey Nelson chance.

There was some back and forth before we saw Chatfield join the rush and get spun off the puck near the corner but the defender stayed with and got a shot away. Andrew Hammond was there with the save. A brief scramble broke out that saw Goldy and Jasek taking whacks at the puck but Hammond was having none of it.

The Carter Bancks line followed up with a good shift that led to a Brisebois chance that Hammond gloved down before the Amerks went the other way and McIntyre denied a Zach Redmond point shot that was redirected on its way to the net.

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The Comets went right back the other way and Lind used a confident play to get past Redmond in the offensive zone. The back and forth continued as McIntyre had to make a pair of saves before Rafferty and Malone tried their luck with a give-and-go play in the Amerks zone. They were unable to finish it off.

Kevin Porter let fly with a shot from the left side that McIntyre denied before the Amerks settled in with some pressure. That pressure eventually led to Taylor Leier finding himself all alone in the high slot and he unloaded with a shot that beat McIntyre for his fourth of the season. Kevin Porter grabbed his 13th assist of the season on the play, while Scott Wilson earned his ninth.

Kole Lind was looking to get that one back with a backhander off the left side but Hammond whipped out the blocker to steer the puck out of play. Reid Boucher followed up with a shot of his own that was denied, as was the Ashton Sautner chance that came after.

Wacey Hamilton was dinged for hooking at the 17:12 mark and the Comets had a penalty to kill. Jasek, Bancks, Sautner, and Chatfield started this kill off before Bailey and Goldobin took over up front. Casey Mittlestadt was stymied on a chance from in close before McIntyre scrambled for another save and held for the whistle.

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Baertschi and Bancks finished this kill off for the Comets.

Guillaume Brisebois tried to set up Wacey Hamilton but the veteran had his chance denied. Another scramble broke out and CJ Smith was sent off for slashing. The Comets had a couple of late chances turned aside and would head into the middle frame down 1-0 on the scoreboard and down 13-6 on the shot clock.

Your first-period shot map.

Second Period

The Comets opened the period up a man and they’d go up two men after Remi Elie absolutely buried Goldobin with a cheap hit from behind. Goldy would be okay while Elie put his team down another man.

Boucher had a quick shot denied by a quicker leg from Hammond before the Amerks netminder swallowed up his next offering. The second unit filtered onto the ice and Jasek had a chance gobbled up as well before a brief melee broke out. I’m sure you can guess that Kole Lind was in the middle of it… as is his way.

The Comets would tie the game at one when Brogan Rafferty powered a shot through from the left circle for his fifth goal and 30th point of the season. Jonah Gadjovich earned his third helper of the year on the play, while Lukas Jasek grabbed his seventh. Jasek now has 11 points in 13 December games.

The physical play picked up after the Rafferty tally and Dylan Blujus tried to get in on the scoring action with a heavy shot that Hammond stopped before rocking backwards in his crease. Sven Baertschi followed up with a spin and fire play that Hammond juggled but covered with Hamilton there looking for loose change.

That very same Hamilton was sent off for interference and the Comets were back to the kill. Bailey and Goldy were the second set of forwards over the boards for this one and they used Bailey’s wheels to get an odd-man rush that saw Bailey draw another penalty as Lawrence Pilut tripped him.

We had 1:05 of four aside play to look forward to and the action was back and forth. Nelson came with a big shot that was steered out of play by McIntyre before Sautner used a good defensive play to force JS Dea into firing his shot wide. Kole Lind had a shot kicked out by Hammond during the Comets brief power play, as did Boucher and things came to an end without a change in the score.

Seamus Malone was dinged for tripping at the 8:45 mark and it was the Comets turn to go back to the kill…. or was it? Kevin Porter pulled the boneheaded move of taking his team off the power play just six seconds later and we had some four aside action.

Jalen Chatfield was deployed at the start of this sequence and you can kind of understand why. Chatfield doesn’t put up a pile of points, but since his return from Vancouver, he has been far more active in the offensive zone. Jalen has always been a fluid skater and has jumped up into plays in the past, but it seems to be happening with more frequency of late and maybe some points will follow if he keeps it up.

The two clubs traded chances during the four aside play, the most dangerous of which was probably William Borgen’s chance that beat McIntyre but Wacey Hamilton was there to sweep the puck off the goal line and out of harm’s way. The teams were back to five aside.

Olli Juolevi has been getting some shots away, but sometimes they are muffins, like the floater that Hammond gloved down and held for the whistle. Jonah Gadjovich followed up with a chance that Hammond got a blocker on before BigVinny was denied on back-to-back chances as the fourth line was putting in the work.

Scott Wilson was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Comets got another crack at the power play. Unfortunately, as has happened more than once this season, a Comets netminder had to make some shorthanded saves to keep his team in the game.

Today, it was McIntyre coming to the rescue with a pair of shorthanded saves and he followed up with a third for good measure. Thank you, Mr. McIntyre. The Comets came up empty once again.

The middle frame had a good pace as the teams went back and forth in what looked like a track meet at times.

I can’t say enough good things about the steps that Kole Lind has been taking in all areas of his game this season. He is putting up points, which is great. He is being an absolute pest on the ice after whistles, which is also good. He is also turning into an effective player when it comes to forcing turnovers and he did just that on the backcheck and got the puck out to Goldobin before joining him on the rush. Kole’s shot was denied, but his play that started things off is just one more of those little details that he is adding to his game this season.

The period was coming to a close, but McIntyre had another save in him before Arseneau hammered MacWillaim with a board shaking hit.

Wacey Hamilton is a give and take sort of player. On one hand, he takes a lot of penalties… like, an unfortunate number at ill-conceived times in the game, but when he isn’t the one in the box, he can be a very effective penalty killer and once in a while, he will even score a goal. He scored one in his first game back on Saturday, and he scored another today to put the Comets up 2-1 at the 19:22 mark.

The goal was Hamilton’s third of the year, while Sven Baertschi played set-up man for his 22nd helper of the season. Reid Boucher was also credited with an assist for his 20th of the season to bring him to 40 points and extend his league-high points streak to 16 games.

That was some great hustle from Sven on that play to make that goal happen.

The Comets finished the period up 2-1 on the scoreboard and 10-9 on the shot clock.

Your second-period shot map:

Third Period

The way the shots went in the final frame, there is no way that Utica should have come out on top in this one, but they did. The Amerks outshot the Comets 13-2 in the third period… 13-2! Once again… thanks, Mr. McIntyre.

The Comets netminder had to glove down an early shot from Zach Redmond and the teams settled into some back and forth before Brisebois had a chance redirected wide of the net.

Brogan Rafferty was whistled for tripping at the 3:15 mark and the Comets were off to an early kill. That penalty is just the third of the season for Rafferty through 34 games.

As often happens when he is being used in a penalty-killing role, Reid Boucher forced a turnover and cleared the zone cleanly. The Comets came up with another good kill.

McIntyre kept the saves coming as Redmond let fly with a shot through traffic that McIntyre got his blocker on. The puck went up in the air and Rafferty batted it back to McIntyre, who alertly gobbled it up for the whistle. The Bancks line followed up with another energy-filled shift in the offensive zone before the Hamilton unit replaced them and Wacey was dinged for a slashing call.

I would have to go back and look, but if I had to guess, I would say that a good number of Hamilton’s penalties have been of the slashing variety… I think I might have an idea for Wacey’s next Halloween costume.

All in good fun. Don’t Cry… although Wacey does take his share of penalties, we need to show him some Patience. We don’t need to start a Civil War here. It’s so Easy to beat a Dead Horse on the matter but he does good work in other areas of the game… and let’s face it, the name Wacey is One in a Million, so let’s cut him some slack… okay, I’ve had enough fun with the Guns-n-Roses thing here.

With Hamilton in the box, Taylor Leier redirected a knuckler from Zach Redmond and the game was tied at two. Zane McIntyre was stumping for a high-stick call on the goal but it never came. Leier had his fifth goal of the season, while Redmond and Lawrence Pilut both picked up their 16th helper of the year on the play.

The Amerks kept pressing and we saw Ashton Sautner take a puck in the ribs and it went up in the air and landed safely on the top of the Comets net. Sautner looked uncomfortable but stayed in the game. The Amerks were all over the Comets before Baertschi used a beautiful backhand feed to a streaking Hamilton in the slot, but the veteran pivot was robbed by Hammond.

Nikolay Goldobin has cleaned up a lot of things in his game in his latest stint in Utica, but he can still leave you with your mouth agape when he coughs up the puck for no apparent reason. That’s just what Goldy did when he handed the puck to Sean Malone and the Amerk went in alone on McIntyre for another chance that was turned aside. Thanks, Mr. McIntyre…

The Amerks must have been stunned by the McIntyre save because they were dinged for having too-many-men on the ice soon after.

It wasn’t long after when Justin Bailey was raising his arms in celebration of his 12th goal of the year. Bailey is quietly having a very nice season in Utica with 12 goals and 11 assists, giving him 23 points for his efforts. He has also played every game and has taken on a penalty-killing role with the club. Kole Lind earned his 18th assist of the season on the play, while Sven Baertschi continued to hoard assists with his 23rd.

I picture Sven going home after a game to an apartment filled with piles of assists, stacked floor to ceiling in crooked towers, searching for his dog amongst the dangerously stacked columns, in fear of them toppling over and crushing him at any second…

That was a tidy bit of puck movement on that play.

Just under 40 seconds later, Olli Juolevi was sent off for a cross-check and the Comets were back to the kill. McIntyre was busy, making an early save and kicking out a Brett Murray offering as the chants of Utica… Utica rained down from the stands. He followed up with a blocker save and Boucher and Jasek went the other way but were unable to grab a shorty.

Back in the Comets end, Sautner did good work to rub Casey Mittlestadt off the puck and the Comets had another good kill in the books.

Utica had some life after the Bailey goal and you could see they wanted to end 2019 with a win.

I’ve mentioned the work of Kole Lind already today, but he deserves some more praise for the growth that he is showing in his second season. You can see the confidence in his game as he holds onto pucks for an extra second or two in order to draw a defender closer to him and away from the teammate that he intends to pass to. That extra couple of seconds might not be so easy for him to find at the next level, but it is an encouraging sign at this stage.

Olli Juolevi has been looking a bit more comfortable with each game and his physical play has taken another step in recent games. He used a solid hit to take his man off the puck in the Comets zone and forced a turnover in his team’s favour in the process. Brogan Rafferty followed up with a nice defensive play of his own as he stole a puck and sent the Comets back out of their end.

Andrew Hammond yo-yoed back and forth from the crease to the bench for the extra attacker as the Amerks were looking to even things up. Taylor Leier was looking for the hatty but McIntyre crushed his dreams with a flash of the leather and the Amerks called their timeout.

Play went back and forth as Pilut had a shot blockered out of play by McIntyre at one end and Boucher tried his luck at an empty-netter but put his offering wide. The Amerks proceeded to ice the puck a couple of times but that was all she wrote in Utica. The Amerks held a 13-2 edge in shots for the final frame and a 35-18 edge for the game, but the Comets took the 3-2 win.

Your third-period shot map:

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

  1. Brogan Rafferty (5) from Jonah Gadjovich (3) and Lukas Jasek (7). PP goal.
  2. Wacey Hamilton (3) from Sven Baertschi (22) and Reid Boucher (20).
  3. Justin Bailey (12) from Kole Lind (18) and Sven Baertschi (23). PP goal.

Special Teams:

Power Play: 2/6

Penalty Kill: 5/6

PP1: Boucher, Baerstchi, Bailey, Lind, Rafferty.

PP2: Jasek, Goldobin, Malone, Gadjovich, Juolevi.

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Hamilton, Jasek, Bailey, Baertschi, Boucher, Goldobin, Sautner, Chatfield, Brisebois, Juolevi, Blujus.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Taylor Leier. Two goals.

2nd Star: Zane McIntyre. 33 saves.

1st Star: Justin Bailey. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Sven Baertschi. Two more helpers for Sven and he is now up to seven goals and 23 assists to give himself 30 points in 22 games played. Sven is playing in all situations for the Comets and even though his situation isn’t ideal for him, he isn’t moping and bringing his teammates down. He is going out there like the professional that he is and he is getting the job done. I hope that at some point the Canucks can either find a new home for him or give him another look up top.

2nd Star: Justin Bailey/Kole Lind/Lukas Jasek. This trio gets to split the second star even if they weren’t all on the same line today. Bailey continues to produce for the Comets while also taking on a penalty-killing role. He has played every game for Utica this year and is currently on pace for a career-high of 51 points.

I spoke about Lind throughout this post-gamer and for good reason. Kole is getting it done in all three zones and is now up to 28 points in 34 games to put him on pace for 63 points. Kole has also played all 34 games so far this year.

Jasek, for his part, has been killing it in his role as the coaching staff’s Swiss Army Knife. He is killing penalties like a veteran while chipping in some nice secondary offence with his 16 points in 33 games. 11 of those points have come in a 13-game December for Lukas. Keep an eye on Jasek in the second half.

1st Star: Zane McIntyre. Zane made 33 saves on 35 shots today and kept his team in this game. He didn’t have to make many big saves in this one, but he was there when he was needed. McIntyre now sits with a record of 10-5-2-0 with a 3.06 goals-against-average to go along with a 0.900% save percentage. He will want to clean those numbers up a little, but he’s been a solid addition to the team.

Next Game

Game #35

Syracuse Crunch at Utica Comets

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Happy New Year! Please be safe and responsible while you’re enjoying yourself